The British Dental Health Foundation is urging patients to be vigilant and look out for warning signs of oral cancer.
Oral cancer is becoming increasingly common, with one person losing their life to mouth cancer every five hours in the UK; however, it does not have the high media profile of other forms of cancer so people are not aware of the early warning signs and could be ignoring them.
Many people are unaware of the prevalence of oral cancer and may not be aware that they are suffering from the disease because they do not know how to recognise the symptoms. Early detection and treatment can dramatically increase survival rates; however, currently most cases are diagnosed in the late stages and consequently survival rates are lower.
You should visit a dentist on a regular basis, to promote good dental health, as well as enabling dentists to check for early signs of oral cancer. Common symptoms of the disease include red and white patches on the tongue or gums, an ulcer which does not seem to be healing and the development of unusual lumps.
An increasing number of dental plans and dental insurance policies offer cover both for regular dental examinations and for treatment of oral cancer.